In a statement issued Friday, North Korea said that it will not be participating in the Winter Olympics in Beijing due to the coronavirus outbreak and actions by “hostile forces.”
South Korea would miss out on a once-in-a-lifetime chance to make formal communication with the North if it did not participate in the Beijing Games. Officials from the South had anticipated that the Olympics would serve as a forum for official representatives from both Koreas to meet and discuss subjects other than sports during the competition.
North Korea’s Olympic Committee and Ministry of Sports expressed their hopes for a successful Olympics in Beijing in a letter delivered to Beijing on Wednesday by the country’s ambassador, despite the fact that “the United States and its vassal forces are becoming evermore undisguised in their moves against China aimed at preventing the successful opening of the Olympics,” according to the North’s official Korean Central News Agency on Friday.
Due to allegations of human rights violations and government atrocities in China’s Xinjiang province, human rights organisations and Western governments have called for a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Australia, Britain, the United States and other nations.
According to North Korea, the boycotts were “a blatant violation of the spirit of the Worldwide Olympic Charter, as well as a base act of seeking to bring China’s international image into disrepute.”
The North is considered to be one of China’s most important allies. It is heavily reliant on China for the majority of its foreign commerce while also contending with severe restrictions imposed by the United Nations as a result of its nuclear weapons programme. However, in recent months, the country’s prospects of participating in the next Olympics in Beijing have been called into question.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) banned North Korea’s national Olympic committee till the end of 2022 in September for boycotting the Tokyo Olympics last year, which was also due to worries of the coronavirus, among other reasons. Individual North Korean athletes, on the other hand, were welcome to compete if they were invited by the organising committee.
The North Korean government has maintained some of the world’s most stringent restrictions in order to prevent the spread of the virus. It has turned down international assistance and closed its borders, putting its border guards under “shoot to kill” instructions, according to reports. The government has not reported any instances of Covid-19, and it has refused offers of millions of vaccine doses, leaving its people exposed to massive epidemics if the country’s borders are reopened in the future.
Officials in South Korea had anticipated that the Beijing Olympics would serve as a platform for officials from the United States, China, and the two Koreas to meet and discuss bilateral relations. President Moon Jae-in of South Korea has been asking those nations to join his administration in proclaiming an end to the Korean War as an incentive for the North to denuclearize as part of one of his last diplomatic attempts before leaving office in May, which is scheduled to take place in May.
Nonetheless, that goal has faced obstacles as high-ranking American officials have eschewed the Games, and North Korea has dismissed the South’s proposal as premature.
North Korea made its debut appearance at the Olympic Summer Games in 1972 and has since competed in every Summer Games, with the exception of the 1984 Summer Olympics, which it boycotted with the Soviet Union, and the 1988 Games, which were hosted by South Korea and boycotted by North Korea. North Korean athletes have earned a total of 16 gold medals, the majority of which have come in weightlifting, wrestling, gymnastics, boxing, and judo competitions.
Both South Korea and North Korea gained greater understanding at the 2018 Winter Olympics hosted in Pyeongchang, South Korea. South Korean President Moon Jae-in welcomed Kim Yo-jong, the only sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, as the first member of his family to cross the border into the country to attend the opening ceremony.
In the wake of a succession of nuclear and long-range missile tests, Mr. Kim used the North’s participation in Pyeongchang as a signal to begin negotiations with the South. Soon after, there was an increase in inter-Korean engagement, which culminated in three summit talks between Mr. Kim and Mr. Moon. Mr. Kim has had three meetings with President Donald J. Trump throughout his tenure in office.
However, following the failure of Mr. Kim’s negotiations with Mr. Trump in 2019, North Korea has shied away from formal interactions with either South Korea or the United States of America. The epidemic has exacerbated the country’s diplomatic isolation as well as its economic challenges. It conducted a hypersonic missile launch on Wednesday, according to the company.